Government plans to build and sell homes

House planning

Ahead of today's Autumn Statement, the government could soon build and sell thousands of homes in a bid to solve the UK's housing shortage, it has been announced.

Chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said private firms were failing to meet demand and supply the 300,000 new homes that are needed in the UK, and that ministers have been forced to think "radically" to help.

Under the proposals, the Homes and Communities Agency would decide on which homes would be built and where, commission builders, and plan the infrastructure around the new developments, before selling the homes to the private sector.

Alexander said: "The message to the house-building sector would be simple: if you don't build them, we will.

"This is the first time in a generation that the government has owned land, led the development on it at this scale and considered commissioning homes directly."

The proposals, part of the National Infrastructure Plan 2014, was launched at a pilot project in Northstowe, a former RAF base in Cambridgeshire, which will have up to 10,000 properties built on it and will be the largest planned town since Milton Keynes was built in the 1960s.

Radical solutions

Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), said: "We need radical solutions if we are to have any hope of solving this crisis within a generation, so the government pilot to directly commission 10,000 new homes at Northstowe - and to examine the potential of this model on a bigger scale - is a very welcome development.  

"Earlier this year I called on the government to set a national target for house-building, and as we have pointed out, the only time when we have built anywhere near the number of homes we need in recent history has been when the government has played a direct and active role in providing new homes."

The infrastructure plan also confirmed a new 'garden city' would be developed at Bicester, Oxfordshire, which will see up to 13,000 homes built, as well as a national road improvement programme worth £15 billion and £2.3 billion for flood defences.


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